Where do Women Extroverts Fit into the Church?
Of late, there is a lot of talk of introversion & extroversion, mainly the introversion. I have read over four to five articles in the last two months alone about how introverts feel misunderstood. Some of these are biased & others are not.
One book circulating (which I have not read yet) is by Adam McHugh, Introverts in the Church. To be honest, the only written piece I've read by McHugh was a guest post on Ann VosKamp's blog entitled, "Where do Introverts Fit into the Church?" I later went to post this article on Facebook to inquire from introverts what they thought? Many agreed. And I would agree with McHugh in that it's not whether one is an introvert or an extrovert in their belonging in the church--it's the kindness of Christ in them.
This here ENFJ, the Teacher, is constantly seeking to understand temperaments in others, in order to best love them. I know I have people in my life rolling their eyes when I bring up Myers-Briggs, but it's honestly about knowing how to love, not putting people in a box. This is precisely why I am eager to know the introvert; as well as, the extrovert. Yet, there are certain strokes of the introversion persuasion of late that get me a bit riled up, and frustrated.
After reading this post, "Caring for Your Introvert," I cringed throughout. Maybe the author was trying to paint extremes, but as an extrovert, I felt like certain parts of the equation were missing. Painting extroverts as constant chatterboxes, less sensitive & insightful.
It's not that I disagreed with everything within this article, because I do believe that what defines an extrovert versus an introvert is how they process information & recharge. As an extrovert, I am a verbal processor and can recharge by being around people. That said, verbal processing doesn't mean that thoughts, reflections & meditations are devoid within. And I feel as though extroverts are seen as lacking that depth that it would seem only introverts hold, which simply isn't true.
Just as recharging doesn't mean that all extroverts are signing up to attend every social function. Every extrovert isn't on the same playing field (same applies to introverts), when it comes to the varying degree of extroversion. I know the more I've grown up & matured, the more I've found a balance of needing alone time & people time. Being a mom who stays at home brings out the need for alone time even more.
Now, let's go back to the McHugh post on his feeling inadequate when compared to his extroverted Christian friend. I get it. I see how being an introvert can be painfully difficult when extending yourself in those uncomfortable get to know you situations. Or feeling like most of the Evangelical Church has turned into a marketing & sales stage, which appears to be catered toward the extrovert. Something I don't have as difficult of a time with, but...
...can I interject my extrovert point of view within this post.
As an extroverted, assertive & strong woman, I can feel like it is less of an asset within the church to be a woman extrovert. It's the meek & mild woman who has been painted, the Mary sitting at Jesus feet whom gets praise. I have had to fight the lies, which spoke to me as a young girl in my mother's shadow of a woman who is extroverted is more sinful than the introverted one. It's the woman who kept quiet sitting at her husband's feet calling him 'lord' who appears blessed.
This lie bled into my relationship with Ben as I saw that he never "sinned" with his mouth. It bled into relationships with friends.
Ultimately, it bled into my view of who God created me to be. Not as a daughter of the most High, but a less than image bearer, due to my extrovert personality.
What gets lost in this introversion & extroversion conversation is what one side views as "holier" than the other; thus, we feel the need to defend from the corner.
After Ben (an ISFJ) read the McHugh post, his response, "You know, it would appear that if we look at the early church fathers & monasticism, being an introvert was viewed as 'more holy.'" I think he's right. Depending on what church upbringing, family background, we can either value our introverted or extroverted self...or despise it.
Either way, it's about being confident in who you are in Christ, and not allowing the lies to seep in. It's like believing the lie that hospitality is about entertaining, when it's actually about making room to see the Christ in others.